Sunday, July 27, 2008

Weekly Meditations: Is. 10 (2)

In that day the remnant of Israel and the survivors of the house of Jacob will no more lean on him who struck them, but will lean on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God. For though your people Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will return. Destruction is decreed, overflowing with righteousness. For the Lord God of hosts will make a full end, as decreed, in the midst of all the earth.

Therefore thus says the Lord God of hosts: “O my people, who dwell in Zion, be not afraid of the Assyrians when they strike with the rod and lift up their staff against you as the Egyptians did. For in a very little while my fury will come to an end, and my anger will be directed to their destruction. And the Lord of hosts will wield against them a whip, as when he struck Midian at the rock of Oreb. And his staff will be over the sea, and he will lift it as he did in Egypt. And in that day his burden will depart from your shoulder, and his yoke from your neck; and the yoke will be broken because of the fat.”

He has come to Aiath; he has passed through Migron; at Michmash he stores his baggage; they have crossed over the pass; at Geba they lodge for the night; Ramah trembles; Gibeah of Saul has fled. Cry aloud, O daughter of Gallim! Give attention, O Laishah! O poor Anathoth! Madmenah is in flight; the inhabitants of Gebim flee for safety. This very day he will halt at Nob; he will shake his fist at the mount of the daughter of Zion, the hill of Jerusalem.

Behold, the Lord God of hosts will lop the boughs with terrifying power; the great in height will be hewn down, and the lofty will be brought low. He will cut down the thickets of the forest with an axe, and Lebanon will fall by the Majestic One.

(Is. 10: 20-34)

With judgment proclaimed over the enemy — Assyria, the prophetic message moves to comfort the people of God who are severely chastised by God and understandably distressed by the apparent victory of the enemy over God's people. The severe chastisement sent unto Israel will lead the remnant of God's people (v. 21) by faith back to God and not to their afflictors. (v. 20). They will lean on Him in truth and therefore truly know God, not superstitiously as their forefathers did. Such is the severity of judgment, that the remnant is a very small figure compared to the external people of God who are like the sand of the sea, by the wrath of God expressing itself out in destruction of the wicked reprobate among the Covenant community (v. 22). And this destruction would proceed according exactly to God's plan, and fulfils His purpose (v. 23)

From this short passage, we can already see a few things. In verse 20, we can see that God is not responsible for the afflictions on His people, although He sovereignly controls them for their chastisement, as He is not the "him who struck them". This already shows us that God is not the author of sin, though He is sovereign over it. And God's people will return and lean on Him in truth, which shows that returning to Christ is based on doctrine in truly knowing Him, yet that doctrine is experiential in its outworking (leaning on Him, not mere "head knowledge")

In verse 24, God comforted the believing remnant of believers not to be afraid of the Assyrians when they ravage the land, and they can not be afraid because God has in mind already their deliverance and salvation, and judgment on the Assyrians who will face God's wrath and fury for their unrighteousness (v. 25). Using the analogy of Israel's victory against the Midianites (Judges 7: 19-25) and of Israel's victory against Egypt at the Red Sea (v. 26), both of which Israel did absolutely nothing to gain their victory but only God did all the actions, God promised once again to do the same in delivering Israel from Assyria. And it did in fact happened miraculously during the reign of King Hezekiah exactly as prophesied (Is. 37:36). God did all the work of deliverance, and the people did nothing to contribute to their salvation besides having faith in God.

This prophesied account is a story of our salvation from God, which verse 27 hints at ('because of the fat', or 'the anointing' - KJV). Our salvation mirrors that of the Israelites here, for it is God and God alone who will save us from the "Assyria" of sin without any help from us. We just have to belief in Him and trust in Him while He monergistically save us from our slavery to sin into the glorious freedom of His Son, who is forever praised. Amen.

The cities mentioned in verses 28-32 are cities of Judah which the Assyrians wold pass through in their attempted conquest of Jerusalem, accompanied by the fleeing of the inhabitants from the mighty power of Assyrian's army. And within one day, the armies of Assyria would reach the area near Jerusalem and shake her fist against her for her destruction (v. 32).

And yet, God will pass His judgments. To those who in their pride proclaimed themselves strong and lofty, God promised that He Himself will destroy them and bring them low (v. 33), using the analogy of bringing down of the lofty trees of Lebanon to emphasize the point (v. 34). Assyria will face the full force of God's wrath in judgment for their pride and arrogance and wickedness, and God will cut off their strength. As we can read for ourselves, God wiped out nearly their entire army overnight (Is. 37:36), totally destroying the source of their strength, and which would ultimately lead to the destruction of Assyria as they start to decline as a nation.

So, beloved in the Lord, do not be afraid of the enemies of our God, no matter how strong they may seem to be to us. For God is our strength if we but trust in Him, and He Himself will be against our enemies and eliminate them on our behalf as long as we trust in Him. So be calm and at peace, for God Almighty is still on His throne, and nobody, not even the devil, can do anything without Him using it for our own good (Rom. 8:28). Lean on Him, and see our deliverance come even as the enemy seems to win for the moment. After all, the war has been won already in our favor, so why do we fret over seeming defeats in battles? Could it be that our God is allowing the enemy to win for the moment so that He can gain the greater glory for wiping them all out in an instance when they are on the verge of total victory? So continue to trust in God, and by faith we know that our God has the ultimate victory. May we trust Him in this on all that we do. Amen.

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